Marriage and parenting can be the richest gifts life has to offer!
But I know from experience, that parenting will either grow and strengthen your marriage or it will weaken and destroy your marriage.
For my husband and I, it almost destroyed our marriage.
Today, I’m sharing with you the mistakes that we made so you don’t have to! Let’s improve your marriage and raise kids!
Marriage and parenting invite us to significantly grow up. They call us to leave our self-focused existence and move into an other-focused existence.
My husband and I had been married 2.5 years when our first daughter was born. We hadn’t made the transition from self-focused to other-focused in our marriage. So, when our daughter was born it began exposing the fault lines in our self-focused marriage.
We didn’t actually address those fault lines until we had 4 children and our oldest was 15. By that time the fault lines had grown so big and our marriage was falling apart.
What does it mean to be self-focus vs other-focused:
- Self-focused: As a human, we naturally look at everything as though it is about me and what I want. What I think, feel & believe how life is supposed to be and should look. How I want things to be done. How I want to spend my time, my money, and my energy.
- Other-focused: True growth and development happens as we become other-focused. This is when you grow beyond your natural bent towards selfishness and into choosing a new negotiated way that works for both you and your spouse. You both get honest about what each person thinks, feels, & believes, as well as, how you both want life to look, how do you want things to be done, and how you want to spend time, money & energy.
It seems obvious that the second version is what we need in marriage, however, very few choose it.
When we grow an other-focused approach in our marriage before kids, parenting together increases individual and marriage growth
When we DON’T grow an other-focused approach before kids, parenting together decreases individual and marriage growth.
Let’s look at the 3 biggest challenges couples face in parenting and how to solve them!
1. Prioritizing marriage growth. Marriages are living and everything living needs nurturing! This means our marriage needs consistent emotional, mental, & physical connection. Each of your careers and kids will easily fill all of your available time, making time for connection with each other very limited. Marriage growth requires intention from both of you. I’m not talking about date night. I am talking about intentional conversations and daily times of connection.
2. Prioritizing individual growth. Again, everything living needs nurturing. Just like your marriage needs nurturing, you are a becoming. The relationship you have with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship. Individual growth happens as you take time to get honest with yourself about your thoughts, feelings, & actions, and then acknowledge what you need and want. This includes taking a look at what’s working and what isn’t in your life and relationships.
3. Dividing responsibilities. In order for you to have the needed time for individual and marriage growth, you will need to divide responsibilities. And by responsibilities I mean things like:
All these responsibilities call us to a lot of negotiations. My husband & I let it “figure itself out” – which meant we each functioned in self-focused dynamics.
What would have solved all of these challenges is taking personal responsibility in communication.
Interested in learning more and unpacking what taking personal responsibility in communication looks like and improve your marriage and raise kids!? Listen to this episode on the Hey Julia Woods YouTube channel.
🎁 Free gifts for you!
I would love to connect with you!